Can Dogs Smell Cancer

Can dogs really sniff out cancer in their humans? The idea of dogs being able to detect cancer may seem far fetched, but considering the physiology of the canine nose, it may be a possibility.

Dogs have 25 times more smell receptors than humans and bread down concentration of smells 100 million times lower than a human.

Dogs can be trained to detect drugs and bombs, so why not cancer?

Training Dogs to Detect Cancer

Research has been ongoing since 1989 to determine the canine ability to detect cancer and studies have been successful.

  • In a study done in Amersham England, published in the British Medical Journal , the researchers set out to find out if dogs can be trained to identify bladder cancer solely on the odor of urine. The conclusion was successful. The dogs used in the study correctly identified bladder cancer in urine 41% of the time. It is evident that bladder cancer gives off an odor or compound that can be dtected by dogs.
  • Dr. Armand Cognetta of Tallahassee, Fl, an expert in melanomas, began researching if dogs could detect skin cancer. He enlisted the help of a dog trainer, and with samples of melanomas tried to train dogs to sniff out skin cancer. George, the dog used in the study, was able to detect the melanoma 99% of the time. Further research proved that George could detect malignant melanoma lesions from benign lesions on patients successfully.

More research is being done to study whether dogs can be trained to detect other types of cancer, like breast, prostate, cervical, and bladder cancer. Initial results show to be promising.

Created 12/28/2005
Reference: Carolyn M Willis, Susannah M Church, Claire M Guest, W Andrew Cook, Noel McCarthy, Anthea J Bransbury, Martin R T Church, and John C T Church Olfactory detection of human bladder cancer by dogs: proof of principle study BMJ, Sep 2004; 329: 712 ;

One Response to “Can Dogs Smell Cancer”
  1. Wonderful topic! There is a book, PAWS & EFFECT: THE HEALING POWER OF DOGS which explains all the studies that have been done into cancer detecting dogs, what they can do and what the future holds.
    It’s fantastic — I’m the author.

    Sharon Sakson

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